Are Stress Free Holidays Even Possible Today?
Are stress free holidays a thing of the past? A myth embedded in crackling Bing Crosby records? With endless Christmas events and responsibilities, increased travel, record-level spending, and the unrealistic expectations now imposed on us by social media, stress free holidays can feel like an impossibility.
But they’re not! With a few mindset shifts and tweaks to your plans, you and your family are completely capable of enjoying stress free holidays! Let’s take a look at how.
Shift Your Mindset For Stress Free Holidays
- First and foremost, stay focused on what the holiday is actually about. Christmas is about celebrating the birth of Jesus and spending time with family. All of the gifts and decorations and themed parties are beautiful, but they’re just the icing on an already gorgeous cake. If we get so caught up in the details that we’re not even able to enjoy the holidays with our family and friends, then we’ve missed the whole point.
- Let go of perfection. Caroline at MotherMorphosis reminds us that not every meal, dessert, decoration, or celebration has to be Pinterest-worthy. Sure, photographic celebrations will wow your guests and get you Instagram likes, but is the time and effort required to make them worth those few seconds of wow? Maybe not.
- Keep traditions simple and affordable. Yes, wearing a gorgeous ball gown to see The Nutcracker sounds like the epitome of Christmas traditions, but you’d better believe my three-year-old would suck the joy out of the ballet ASAP. Ensuring traditions are enjoyed by all means you won’t have the stress of fighting with your kids to get them dressed and out the door. Keeping them affordable means less financial stress hanging over your head. Traditions are less about the events themselves and more about spending time together. Find nine simple and affordable Christmas traditions to start this year here!
Just Say No For Stress Free Holidays
- Just say no (and thank you). There are just too many holiday events, like parties, concerts, and fairs, and responsibilities, like shopping and baking, to fit into the few weeks where they all fall. To be honest, there are even events that I could technically jam into my schedule, but that would likely tip the scale from enjoyable day to stressed-out-checking-events-off-our-list day. So I thank the host for their invitation, but explain that we already have plans. Decide what’s most important to you, focus your time and energy there, and politely decline the rest.
- Rethink what’s necessary. Shannon at We’ll Eat You Up We Love You So shares that she found certain holiday traditions, like baking cookies for coworkers, sending Christmas cards, and visiting Santa at the mall, just weren’t worth the effort. Don’t be afraid to rethink the things you’ve always done, and cut any from your to-do list that don’t line up with the first point above, or that cause you more stress than joy. Don’t want to cut a tradition completely? Try downsizing! So rather than sending 70 Christmas cards, decide on the top 10-15 that are most important to you and drop the rest.
- Ask for help. I know, I know, you want to be an incredible host. You want to get everything right and perfect! But it’s totally acceptable to ask your spouse to greet guests and take their coats, and to delegate your sister to offering drinks or helping to clear the table. In fact, many introverts (me! me!) are more comfortable helping with small jobs than lingering around the living room making small talk. Your older children can help with baking and wrapping gifts, your husband can split gift shopping with you. Sure, maybe you’re better at doing those things, but sometimes…? You just need the job done.
Set Boundaries For Stress Free Holidays
- Set boundaries. I understand the loving pressures applied by parents, grandparents, and other family members to visit over the holidays. (Heck, my husband and I have seven parents between us!) But the fact is that you can’t please everyone. You are one human with just a few short weekends in December. Anneliese at Grown Up Glamour by Anneliese Lawton suggests setting boundaries when your children are small, to avoid settling into unrealistic expectations for the long haul. She shares, “We now keep Christmas morning as a special time just for us four.”
- Don’t get caught up in a day on the calendar. On the same note, remember that Christmas isn’t contained to a date on the calendar. We’ve celebrated “Christmas” a week late, or two weeks early, in order to make it work for everyone’s schedule, and fit in multiple celebrations.
- Don’t give in to the pressure to overspend. There have been years we’ve been able to surprise family members with expensive electronics or weekend trips for Christmas. (Now those were fun to give!) Other years, those same family members have received thoughtful cards and a small bag of their favorite candy. It all depends on our finances from year to year. And guess what? They love us and are thankful for the thought behind every gift, big or small. There’s nothing quite like a quickly dwindling bank account to bring on the stress, so be careful that you don’t spend what you don’t have. A hand-written card or homemade gift can speak volumes.
Work Smarter, Not Harder For Stress Free Holidays
- Start early! If you don’t start things early, chances are good that ev-er-y-thing is going to hit at once, and that is not the proper recipe for stress free holidays! Write out your holiday to-do list and get started on it. Jot down important dates on the calendar, make a list of everyone that needs a gift, and start watching for killer deals. Jumpstart coordination with different sides of the family ahead of time so you’ll know who’s visiting when. The more you can knock out before Christmas week, the more you’ll be able to relax and actually enjoy that time. Need a little help getting a solid jumpstart? Be sure to download our free holiday organization planner!
- Let your kids in on your plans. You usually give your kids a heads up on your plans for the day, right? You might even let them know that you’ll be leaving for an activity in 30 minutes. Why not do the same for them during holiday traveling to help lower everyone’s anxiety levels? Jacqueline at Boogers Abroad shares, “Whenever I travel with my anxious child, I create a little notebook so he knows travel-time details and where we’re sleeping each night. It helps so much, especially during hectic holidays!”
- Ship gifts straight from the source. I used to purchase my brother’s four kids’ gifts on Amazon and have them all shipped to my house. Then I would wrap them and ship them to his house in one box, three states away. Until I got smarter! I starting paying an extra dollar or two for wrapping when I ordered gifts, and just having them shipped directly to my brother’s house. Nothing is more frustrating than visiting the post office during the holidays. Skip that step altogether if possible.
Wrap It Up
Stress free holidays are within your grasp! Shift your holiday mindset, just say no, set boundaries, and work smarter, not harder.
What tricks have you found for stress free holidays? Be sure to share in the comments below!
P.S. Did you miss the link to download your free holiday organization planner? Nab it here!
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